All About Guns


FN’s striker-fired pistol models have not met the market with great commercial success.

I recently had the chance to head out and run some rounds through the FN 509, and in this review, we’ll explore what I feel are the pros and cons of this pistol and answer the question, does the FN 509 buck the trend?


  • Barrel length4.0”
  • Length7.4”
  • Capacity17 rounds
  • ActionStriker-fired

FN 509 Background

FN has a storied history as a firearm manufacturer. Their work with John Moses Browning led to some legendary firearms like the M2 .50 BMG and the Browning Automatic Rifle. FN went on to introduce the Hi-Power, which was the high capacity 9mm to beat for decades. Their FAL became known as the “right arm of the free world” for how widely adopted it was by western nations, and they won the M16 and M4 contracts from Colt.

This streak of success has, unfortunately, not carried over to their striker-fired pistols. The FNS was their first attempt at that market segment. It was not a great commercial success but also not a total failure.

A modified FNS competed in the U.S. Army XM17 Modular Handgun System (MHS) competition. The Sig Sauer P320 ultimately beat out the FN submission, as well as offerings from Glock, Beretta, and others. FN did not want to waste the effort and expense that went into their MHS submission, and it morphed into the 509.

The 509 lineup has become very diverse, ranging from compact models to full-size tactical and competition variants. But the 509 had the misfortune of hitting the market at a time when the striker-fired pistol market was much more crowded than it was in the days of the FNS.

FN 509 Features

FN 509 Features



The FN 509 lineup is much more than a single full-size model. Midsize models retain the 4-inch barrel of the full-sized model but have a shorter grip. The magazine capacity is reduced to 15 rounds, but higher capacity versions fit as well. Compact models further shorten the grip and barrel. MRD versions of the midsize and compact are able to accept red dot sights.

Tactical models have threaded barrels and slides that are cut to accept red dot sights. The tactical models also include a 24-round extended magazine and are available in black or flat dark earth. Compact and midsize tactical models are also available. The LS Edge variant is the “competition” model with an extended slide, a better trigger, and extra slide cuts. Ten-round magazines are also available for states with restrictions.


The FN 509 is not a class leader in any category. It attempts to mimic its more successful competitors but fails to distinguish itself in any way. The magazine capacity of 17 in the full size and 15 in the midsize is directly comparable to other brands of similar sizes.

Shooting the 509 is a thoroughly lackluster experience. The trigger is mushy and indefinite, and long even by striker-fired standards. Recoil is not noticeably more or less than any similar pistol. It points well enough coming onto target but is not appreciably better or worse than its competitors. The 509 is the firearm equivalent of a modern superhero movie; it works well enough but is generally not memorable.

FN 509 3

Reliability is the only area where the 509 is noteworthy. The gun used for this review is a rental on the shooting range where I work. It has been on the line for several years and has been shot, handled, and dropped by people who did not know what they were doing. The cleaning and maintenance schedule it has survived would best be described as infrequent or occasional. Despite a rough life, it has kept working, and FN deserves credit for that. The only reliability issue was the slide failing to lock back on a few occasions where it should have, and it is possible the slide stop it at the end of its service life on this particular gun.

FN 509 2

Ergonomically, the 509 is ok. There is nothing shockingly bad or noticeably good. The controls are ambidextrous and the backstraps can be changed to accommodate different hand sizes. The backstraps can add a bit of a swell, but the grip is still very squared off and feels like holding a 2×2. Shooters who like to wrap the index finger of their support hand around to pinch at the base of the trigger guard cannot do so, as the magazine release is located there.

The 509 is a suitably accurate gun for most purposes but it is not a stand-out. At seven yards it will print groups that are thoroughly average. At 25 yards, it takes real work to keep a decent group. Most of that struggle stems from the poor trigger. I generally do not like changing triggers away from factory models, but if you have a 509 and are determined to make it better, a replacement trigger should be considered.

FN 509 1

Other accuracy issues with the 509 stem from the factory sights. The rear notch is very wide compared to the front sight. At closer ranges, this can help with getting a faster sight picture. However, when shooting for the accuracy or at distances beyond 15 yards, it is so wide that it becomes a liability. The front sight feels like it is swimming in the canyon of the rear sight. The sights feature luminous dots (like a watch face) that glow once they have been exposed to light, but they are not tritium. This style of sight is inferior to true night sights because a pistol stored in a safe or holstered in concealment will probably not have enough exposure to light for the sights to glow. Tritium night sights are available on the aftermarket

Possibly the most underwhelming feature of the 509 is the price. Despite its flaws, it is priced like a premium pistol. Tactical models cost around $900, and base models are around $600. The LS Edge with its extended slide and more ornate slide cuts is over $1,300. While those prices are not unusual among Glocks and Sigs, those guns are more able to justify the price. Perhaps the 509 would have more success if it was competing with the $400 handguns instead of the premier options. Spare magazines for the 509 also run about $50, which makes buying a stockpile of magazines an expensive endeavor.

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